What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free online business directory integrated with Google Search and Google Maps. Launched in 2014, it has become one of the largest and most important directories for small and medium sized businesses. Whether you have a store front, or serve your customers remotely, Google My Business can help grow your small business.
The Importance for Small Business Owners
Google My Business helps small business owners optimize their local search engine optimization (SEO). This is a fancy way of saying you’re more easily found when someone searches on Google for businesses in your region. Having a Google My Business profile gives Google more accurate, up-to-date information matching your business to relevant searches.
A Google My Business profile is useful for two types of queries, direct search and discovery search.
Direct search involves a query including your business name, a variant of your name, or address. When someone anywhere in the US searches for our client ER Fitness LLC, their information card shows up in the sidebar of the Google Search results. The business is also seen on a Google Map. This is great for both local storefront businesses and remote businesses who serve a whole region.
Discovery search involves a broad query including relevant information about your business and a location. For example, when someone searches “Fitness in Lexington, MI” or “Gym in Lexington, MI”, ER Fitness again shows up in the sidebar. This is a great way for potential customers to discover new businesses. However, there is no guarantee your information will come up for a particular discovery search.
How to Get Started
First, search your business name and location on Google. Sometimes Google has information gathered to create a listing for your business, and you’ll need to claim it. If you don’t see a listing in the sidebar of the results, you’ll need to create a new one. If you’re a Cemah client on a managed package, we’ll create and update your Google My Business profile for you. One less thing to worry about!
Information & Verification
It is important to fill out relevant information about your small business. Whether you have a storefront, office or work remotely, you’ll need a mailing address. For businesses with a physical location, an address is displayed on your profile. A service radius appears for business working remotely or delivering goods and services to their customers.
Google sends a postcard via standard mail to verify your address. Your Google My Business listing won’t show up until you’ve entered a code from the postcard. Keep in mind, Google will not send verifications to PO Boxes.
Always keep your information up-to-date. An hours of operation change is extra important. Many people discover your business from their mobile phones on the go. You don’t want to upset someone with incorrect hours! Google My Business even has a handy tool to easily change your hours for upcoming holidays.
Add Images To Help Visualize
Profile pictures, cover photo, logo; these are all important to finish the look of your listing. Staff and location photos also help potential customers visualize your business. If you have a storefront, including a picture of your building exterior will help people locate you. The photo section has specific places to add extra types of images.
Have Customers Leave Reviews on Google
Another great aspect of Google My Business for small business owners is the ability to manage reviews. When someone leaves you a review through Google, it shows up on your listing and you have the ability to respond. These reviews are highly visible and make a great impact on your business. Make sure to push happy customers toward leaving a review on Google.
Insights & Analytics
You have the ability to monitor how people react to your business listing. The insights panel includes total searches broken down by direct vs. discovery, search result vs. map, customer actions, and photo views. Insights in marketing are used to help make better decisions. If people often ask for directions, include more images of your location and the surrounding area. If a lot of people look at your photos, add even more! Not as many discovery searches? Maybe a category change is in order.
Using Google My Business For Your Small Business
Every small business should have a Google My Business directory listing. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Managing your profile is quick and easy. Make sure information is kept up-to-date and relevant. You’re business will be one step closer to a solid local SEO foundation.